AT THE CINEMA [Feb 25th]
Animal Kingdom [main picture]
Sam Says: I’ve been waiting to see this Australian crime drama for some time, having first heard great things about it in the spring of last year. It made the number one spot in the Top 10 Films of 2010, according to my Aussie friend (and sometime superpodcast colleague) Bede Jermyn. Animal Kingdom is a film I’ve tried to remain entirely spoiler free on, all I really know is that it concerns Joshua the young son (newcomer James Frecheville) of a criminal family headed by formidable matriarch Janine (an Oscar nominated Jacki Weaver). Joshua finds himself pulled in two directions; into the family business by Pope (Ben Mendelsohn) and into the witness programme by a cop (Guy Pearce) who has been after this family for a long time.
By all accounts David Michod’s first film is a thrilling one, and boasts outstanding performances from a reasonably starry cast of Aussie character actors. I can’t wait to – at last – see it.
Mike Says: A wonderfully uplifting documentary from Lucy Walker (Blindsight), Waste Land was the best film I saw at the London Film Festival and has been nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar. I didn’t know what to expect going into the film; perhaps a preachy meditation on squalor with the added pretense of promoting the modern art of Vik Muniz. As it is, that assessment couldn’t be further from the truth. Muniz is a lovable and kind-hearted man with a natural connection to the people of Jardim Gramacho, who show admirable dedication to their work and community. Their journey is a deeply human one and the film left me in tears come the finale, as I’ve never been so relived to see good things happen to good people. I very rarely find myself this attached to a film, so simply can’t recommend it enough.
ON DVD / BLU RAY [Feb 28th]
Mike Says: I know very little of Alamar other than it concerns the final farewell between a Mayan man and his half-Italian son as they adventure into the unknown recesses of the open sea. It’s 70 minutes long, and apparently with very little dialogue. I’m a big fan of minimalism and this film looks to be a stunningly photographed foray into nature; like a poem to love and the ocean. I’m sure many will find it frustrating but allowing simplistic camerawork to observe the progression of life; allowing narrative to expand upon itself without need for pace or logical structure; allowing characters to simply be in a world that is unknown to me… that sounds perfect.
Mike Says: Iranian films generally have a hard time finding UK distributors so whenever one comes along it’s an exciting prospect. What about the film is so good that distributors have had the faith to put it out there, albeit exclusively into arthouse cinemas? The Hunter looks to be a sparse revenge drama with equal thought to human relations as shoot-outs and car chases. One look at the trailer and its clear that the film is being marketed as a genre piece, in line with American revengers such as Death Wish (1974) and The Brave One (2007). The cinematography is cold and haunting, and the debate of where the line is drawn between cops and criminals – and if vigilante justice rightfully stands on that line – should be an interesting one. Iranian revenge? Count me in.
Smash His Camera
Sam Says: I spend a lot of time in London, walking between screenings in the west end of the city. A few times now I have seen the paparazzi plying their trade. The most notable incident was when I saw walked past a huge crowd of photographers, hanging around outside a central London hospital, clearly waiting for someone famous to emerge. It left a nasty taste in my mouth. This, along with my general distaste for the paparazzi and their work, has fed my interest in seeing Smash His Camera, a documentary portrait of Ron Galella who has been working in the industry for four decades, unusual in what seems to be, from those documentaries I’ve seen previously, a young man’s game.
The film has attracted appreciative reviews from festivals and limited theatrical releases, but I would imagine that it will have much more of a life on DVD. It strikes me as a film that is only likely to become more relevant as our society becomes ever more fixated on ‘celebrity’ ‘news’.